A lot of friends and acquaintances dislike Levit, but I find him compelling. There's a restlessness in his performances; a feeling of exhaustively contemplating and searching the possibilities of Beethoven's sonatas, their implications. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. But his willingness to grab Beethoven's music (and the listener along with him) and argue, roar, and swoon over it is the kind of risk-taking I like hearing in this repertoire. Young performers often sound so meek, timid, boring really. Levit's interpretive gambles, on the other hand, demand one's attention (and occasional argument).
Biss is quite fine. Serene, poised. The difference between him and Levit is that the former are performances of ideas encoded on paper; the latter a palimpsest in sound of ambitions, hopes, frustrations. Both pianists leave nothing to be desired technically, though I have a preference for Levit's big, oaken sonority.
Post by steve
I have 2 complete cycles of the Beethoven piano sonatas (Brendel the last set, & Buchbinder). I also have individual sonatas from Pollini, R Serkin, Peter Serkin, Ashkenazy & a few others. I thought it might be interesting to have a set from the younger generation. I’m a big fan of Igor Levit & was considering getting his set. Not that long ago I saw it on Amazon at a very reasonable price but now it appears to be gone or expensive. I could just get the late sonatas and the Diabelli variations. Thoughts?
How does the Levit set compare with Jonathan Biss?